What to see and do at the 2019 Inside Out LGBT Film Fest
It’s that time of year once again! Toronto’s LGBT film festival (one of the largest in the world) returns to usher in the summer season. Whether you’re a filmmaker or a film lover, Inside Out provides an opportunity to catch premium queer content and hobnob with the stars. For instance, a few years ago, I got to see Matt Bomer walk down a hallway. You really never know!
The festival regularly programs strong content across the board (and this year achieved gender parity with its directors), but I wouldn’t have this gig if I didn’t point out at least a few gems. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the key programming you should check out.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
A huge get for this year’s fest is Dexter Fletcher’s buzzy musical biopic Rocketman. Fresh from stealing all the daddies, Taron Egerton makes his Oscar bid clear by taking on the role of Sir Elton John and charting the icon’s journey from meek piano man to international superstar. Advance buzz has been positive, and the festival screenings drop weeks before general release, so it’ll make you very popular on Gay Twitter. Bright costumes! Fantasy sequences! Hopefully more queer content than Bohemian Rhapsody!
Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City
Directed by Alan Poul
Tuesday May 28, 9:00 pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Streaming giant Netflix has an elevated presence at Inside Out this year (after announcing a very exciting four-year partnership with the festival), and one of the queerer projects in their stable is the newest chapter in the fabled Tales of the City franchise. Laura Linney’s Mary Ann Singleton returns to a considerably more expensive (but still magical!) San Francisco, reconnecting with Olympia Dukakis and Paul Gross, and joined by series newbies Ellen Page and super-hottie Murray Bartlett. The first ep will screen at the fest, with showrunner Lauren Morelli in attendance. Murray Bartlett will also be there, by the way, in case you want to creep him from afar like yours truly.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
Directed by Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
Saturday May 25, 5:00 pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
What a strange little bird A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is in the history of horror cinema. Following on the heels of one of the most iconic genre films of all time, Nightmare 2 was … something completely different. A gay panic film featuring BDSM gym teachers, oodles of homoeroticism, and a male scream queen, it was rejected by audiences and basically ruined the career of star Mark Patton. Documentary filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen reconnect with Patton as he makes peace with the film, explores its legacy, and confronts its original screenwriter, David Chaskin. A must for all you creepy queers out there.
Queering the Script
Sunday May 26, 12:15 pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Queerness on television has gone from subtext to text, but the transition in representation hasn’t always been a smooth one. Remember a few years ago when shows were killing all their queer women at such an alarming rate that it became a trope? Good times, you guys. Gabrielle Zilkha’s awesome doc explores the rise in activism in the queer fandom that pushed for more responsible representation, and the importance of said representation in marginalized communities. She also interviews TV heavies like Ilene Chaiken (The L Word), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess), and Angelica Ross (Pose). A must-see!
Knives and Skin
Directed by Jennifer Reader
Wednesday May 29, 9:30pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
A teen girl goes missing and a small town is thrown into a state of chaos. You have your jocks, your marching-band nerds, the cheerleaders … If all this sounds a bit familiar, it’s supposed to, as writer-director Jennifer Reeder takes on the classic American teen drama and turns it all on its head, incorporating magic realism, Heathers-style darkness, eighties pop music, queerness, and just about everything in between. This film had significant buzz coming out of Berlinale this year, so check it out!
Directed by Michelle Mohabeer
Thursday May 30, 4:45pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Local filmmaker Michelle Mohabeer tackles intersectional identities in this documentary essay on the queer Canadian experience in the Indo-Caribbean diaspora. Starting with her own story, Mohabeer asks some key questions about how one defines oneself in relation to so many competing influences and identities. Age, gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, mobility, imperialism, family history – it’s all here.
Directed by Nisha Ganatra
Saturday Jun 01, 7:00pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
In this Mindy Kaling–penned flick, the legendary Emma Thompson plays a late-night talk show host faced with confronting her own reputation as a “woman who hates women” in an industry where women face many hurdles to get ahead. Bringing her first female writer (Kaling) on staff to help quiet the critics, she must confront the entertainment Industry’s professional hierarchy head-on in this searing (and very funny) take on misogyny, race, and privilege in Hollywood.
Directed by Megan Wennberg
Friday May 24, 5:00pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
There was a time when drag culture was relegated to gay bars and dark dives on seedy strips, but the influence of RuPaul’s Drag Race (among many others – please don’t come for me, drag fans) has transformed the mainstream understanding of the drag performance as a tool for change and self-expression in unexpected places. In this fantastic doc, filmmaker Megan Wennberg showcases a group of kiddos using drag and gender performance as a way to define themselves.
Vida: Season 2
Wednesday May 29, 7:15pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Inside Out’s programming extends well beyond films and television series to serialized digital content as well. As part of their Episodic program, the festival showcases the popular web series Vida. Led by showrunner Tanya Saracho and an all-Latinx writers’ room, the series tackles two sisters returning home after their mother’s death to learn of and grapple with her many secrets. The fest will screen two second-season episodes, with talent on-hand to discuss.
Brief Story from the Green Planet
Directed by Santiago Loza
Tuesday May 28, 9:30 pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
When a young trans woman’s grandmother dies, she returns home to deal with the estate. But what she finds is a rather unexpected request: the care of a “peculiar creature” and a strange journey to the place where this companion was first found. Quirky in all the best ways, Santiago Loza’s film won the Teddy at Berlinale this year and is an experience that most festival-goers will remember for ages.
Local Heroes shorts and party
The queer Toronto institution returns! A grab-bag of shorts from local filmmakers, this year’s program promises everything from ballroom to bicycling to “textile vaginas and a carrot.” Intriguing. The program is followed by an always-legendary (and Yohomo-sponsored) party, held this year in the nearby Starz Festival Lounge. See you on the dancefloor! I mean, maybe I’ll be dancing with Matt Bomer? (A boy can dream.)
For more information about the Inside Out Festival and most updated schedule, visit the official website.